If Australia started day three of the one-off Ashes Test match in Taunton on Saturday (July 20) with one hand on the Ashes, they finished the day with both hands firmly gripping the trophy as England held on by the skin of their teeth. Sophie Molineux ripped through England’s middle order with a devastating spell of left-arm spin to leave England stuttering at 199 for 6, trailing Australia by 221 runs.
After keeping them in the field for more than three-quarters of the first session, Meg Lanning put England in to bat with only a few minutes left before lunch. It was the worst possible situation the hosts could have hoped for, and it got even more worse when Ellyse Perry bowled Tammy Beaumont for a duck.
Heather Knight and Amy Jones stabilized the innings with a half-century partnership, giving the hosts much to cheer about after two difficult days. What began as a cautious partnership began to blossom with the introduction of Jess Jonassen. Jones too the attack to the veteran left-arm spinner, going after anything even slightly loose.
However, 79 runs and 21.1 overs later, Molineux got into the act removing Knight for a patient 28. Meanwhile, Jones continued to attack as she brought up her maiden half-century in her very first Test match.
A moment of brilliance in the field saw the back of Georgia Elwiss who failed to get going and was bogged down by the pressure of dot balls. Nicole Bolton, the fielder at extra-cover, was quick to the ball and threw down the stumps as Elwiss was caught well short.
England’s 111 for 3 soon became 132 for 5 as Molineux struck twice at the start of the last session, removing Jones for a well-made 64, and Sarah Taylor for 5. With England in a spot of bother, Natalie Sciver found an able ally in Katherine Brunt, and the two hung around for a while. They shared a crucial 57-run partnership, with Brunt chipping in with 15.
Just when it looked like Sciver and Brunt would bat through the rest of the day, another debutante, Ashleigh Gardner stepped up to the plate. The off-spinner dismissed Brunt with England’s score at 189 for 6.
Anya Shrubsole and Sciver— who brought up her maiden Test fifty— batted through the rest of the day to take England to 199 for 6. The allrounder was unbeaten on 64, while the latter managed a stoic 36-ball 1.
Earlier in the day, Australia resumed their innings at 341 for 5, much to the bemusement of the crowd. After the early dismisssal of Jonassen, Mooney partnered with Molineux to take the visitors passed 400. Mooney, in particular, was the aggressor in the partnership.
As Australia threatened to take the game firmly out of England hands, Ecclestone dismissed Molinuex for 21. However, Mooney continued to attack, scoring her maiden half century in 87 deliveries. In her attempt to accllerate the run rate even more, Mooney was soon dismissed for 51, as Australia declared at 420 for 8.
Brunt, Sciver and Ecclestone were Engand’s most impressive bowlers on show with two wickets apiece.